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How to Sponsor Family Members for a Green Card

May 28, 2024 | adjustment of status, Consular Process, Green card, Immigrant Visa, immigration

Introduction

One of the most common ways to obtain a green card in the United States is through family-based immigration sponsorship.

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can sponsor certain family members for a green card, either through adjustment of status (if eligible) or through consular process (if eligible).

In this blog post, I will explain who can sponsor family members and the sponsorship process.

Determine Your Eligibility

To sponsor a family member for a green card, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Be able to prove your relationship to the family member you wish to sponsor
  • Be able to financially support the family member you wish to sponsor

Identify the Family Member(s) You Want to Sponsor

You can sponsor the following family members for a green card:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children under 21
  • Parents (if you are a U.S. citizen and over 21)
  • Siblings (if you are a U.S. citizen and over 21)
  • Married children or children over 21 (if you are a U.S. citizen)

File a Visa Petition

As a sponsor, you must file a visa petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to seek to classify your relative for immigration purpose.

The visa petition establishes the legal relationship for immigration purposes between you and the family member you wish to sponsor.

This is required regardless of whether your relative is seeking to adjust status or consular processing.

Wait for USCIS Approval

After you file the visa petition, USCIS will review your petition and notify you of its decision.

If approved, USCIS will forward the petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing if your relative is seeking to consular process.

If adjusting status in the United States, the relative can file an application for adjustment of status (either concurrently with the visa petition, if their category allows it, or after the visa petition approval).

Submit Immigrant Visa Application or an Adjustment of Status Application

The family member you are sponsoring must complete the appropriate forms based on their location.

An immigrant visa application is filed with the State Department’s NVC for applicants outside the United States and seeking to consular process.

An adjustment of status application is filed with USCIS for applicants already in the United States and seeking to adjust their status.

Both the immigrant visa process and adjustment of status process require additional supporting documents, which are determined on a case-by-case basis.

Attend a Green Card Interview (if applicable)

Depending on the circumstances, the family member you are sponsoring may be required to attend an adjustment interview with USCIS or at a U.S. consulate or embassy if they are abroad and seeking to immigrate through consular process.

At this interview, an immigration officer will review the applicant’s eligibility for a green card.

The officer will also determine if the applicant is inadmissible for any reason, and whether a waiver of inadmissibility is required or not.

Receive a Decision on the Green Card Application

If the green card application is approved, the family member will receive their green card, granting them lawful permanent resident status in the United States.

This is accomplished through either adjustment of status or via consular process.

If the green card application is denied, the applicant will be informed why it was denied.

Conclusion

Sponsoring family members for a green card can be a complex process, and the requirements can vary depending on your relationship to the family member, where they are located, and other factors.

The reward, of course, is reuniting with your family member in the United States!

It’s important to consult with an immigration attorney to ensure that you understand the process and meet all the necessary requirements to avoid delays, rejections, and denials.

Ruchi Thaker